What mycotoxins are most common?
Mycotoxins have an estimated 5 billion USD impact on the US and Canadian animal industries annually. While mycotoxin contamination can be difficult to completely assess due to sampling and testing complexity, it is critical to understand the extent of mycotoxin challenges in feed ingredient sources.
The most common mycotoxins are aflatoxin, deoxynivalenol (also known as DON or vomitoxin), zearalenone, and fumonisin. When determining mycotoxin testing and mitigation plans, watch for key symptoms associated with each of these mycotoxins.
Aflatoxin is a highly toxic and carcinogenic mycotoxin that decreases performance and overall animal well-being. Aflatoxin occurs in corn, wheat, barley, oats, rice, cottonseed, sunflower, nuts, and spices. Calves are most susceptible to aflatoxin. In lactating cows, if aflatoxin is managed effectively (below 20 ppb in total diet) to avoid risk of aflatoxin M-1 appearing in milk at more than the permitted 0.5 ppb, physiological impacts on the animal are limited.
Symptoms of aflatoxin consumption include:
- Reduced milk production
- Dry, peeling skin on the muzzle
- Liver damage
- Hair loss
- Overall appearance of ill-health
Deoxynivalenol (DON) is a relatively common mycotoxin, especially in the northern half of the US and in Canada. Corn, wheat, barley, oats, sorghum, rye, and all grain silage types are at risk for DON. DON is one of the most immunosuppressive mycotoxins, causing increased risk from other stressors.
Symptoms of DON consumption include:
- Lowered milk and milk fat production
- Higher somatic cell counts
- Decreased rumen function
- Damaged mucous membranes that may lead to diarrhea
Also known as the reproductive mycotoxin, zearalenone and related compounds are most harmful for the breeding herd. When zearalenone risk is possible, it is advisable to monitor grain, grain by-products, and grain forages being used in heifer or cow diets, and to eliminate any known contaminated ingredients from the diets of reproducing animals. Zearalenone is commonly found in corn silage, high-moisture corn, barley, and sorghum.
Symptoms of Zearalenone consumption include:
- Irregular or missed estrous cycles
- Reduced conception rates
- Increased embryonic losses
- Early maturity of mammary glands & reproductive organs
- Reduced fetal development and lower viability of newborns
Fumonisins are fairly common contaminants of grains, grain by-products, and some grain silages, especially in the southern half of the United States. Ruminants tend to be much less susceptible to fumonisin than monogastric species.
Symptoms of fumonisin consumption include:
- Increased mortality
- Decreased feed intake
- Reduced immune response
- Lowered liver and kidney function
Managing Mycotoxin Risks Through Nutrition
Understanding mycotoxin risks by following regional survey results, monitoring ingredients, managing suspect ingredients, and employing mitigation tactics is essential for building productive and profitable operations. Working with your nutrition team to determine the best measures for managing mycotoxins will be key when feeding crops grown in 2018 to livestock. Assistance can include formulation and nutrition solutions. Reach out to your local Cargill Representative or contact us to learn more about how PROMOTE® additives are part of the nutrition solutions provided by Cargill.